Re:Verse reading–1 Corinthians 1:18-25 (day five)

vs. 18 “But to us who are being saved”.  Isn’t it interesting that Paul refers to himself as one of those who “are being saved”? Hasn’t he already trusted Christ to save him?  Why would he say, “we” instead of “you”?  The answer is that salvation happens in 3 tenses (past, present, and future). Each tense requires faith and trust.

Each one who is saved can look back to a moment where WE confessed, repented, and by faith in Christ, trusted God to save us. He was (past tense) saving us from the penalty of sin.

The faith and trust WE have in God’s promises of the future (heaven and eternal life) indicate one day, WE believe that through Christ, He will save from the presence of sin.

How are WE being saved currently (present)?  WE trust, through faith in Christ that God is – by His power, wisdom, and forgiveness saving us from the power of sin. It is the tension and struggle we sense.

So, we trust and proclaim that God has saved us, will save us, and is currently saving us. That is great news!!

Power of God

Re:Verse reading–1 Corinthians 1:18-25 (day four) 

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians was intended to correct the false reasoning and practices going on in the church.  The Greeks had a deep love for philosophy and when many of the converts came into the church at Corinth, they brought with them the false thinking they already had.  Paul was trying to teach the church that the wisdom of God did not need any of man’s ‘wisdom’ to be added to it.  The Corinthians held on to many of their presuppositions about God that effectively created an idolatrous image of how God should act and be.

How often do we do the same as the Corinthians? We develop our own image as to how God should look and respond and we then twist the truth of Scripture to match up with our image.  This is called idolatry.  Paul says in our very best ‘wisdom’, we cannot compare to God’s ‘worst foolishness’.  Believers are called to trust the wisdom of Christ…the very power of God.


Re:Verse reading–1 Corinthians 1:18-25 (day Three)

Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.

Let’s all spare one another the claims of how we’re big-time on board with Paul’s words: “Of course we’re on board!  It’s the Bible!”  Look, if we’re already on board with everything the Bible says, then we…really don’t need the Bible.  Come on.  Jesus punched holes in conservative theologians’ tests for purity and devotion, and found little worth conserving in the ways most people actually mapped out their spirituality.   He refused to lift a finger to build a sycophantic following, and his rejection of political finesse got him killed.  But we get it now, right?  We love him now, right?  Jesus pointed out our tendency to cherish prophets safely after the fact.  Paul gets in our faces here, declaring it’s time for a gut check.

His Ways

Re:Verse reading–1 Corinthians 1:18-25 (day two) God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. vs 21b

He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble. Luke 1:52

If there is one narrative thread running throughout scripture it might be best summed up by the prophet Isaiah: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. 55:8

Power, authority, popularity = meaningless to the kingdom work to which you have been called. The cross was a pointless end to a life mis-spent if you measure by culture’s norms. But if we have an inkling of trust that God is greater than our limited scope and vision. If we can trust that his way is always better, then the cross comes into focus a bit more clearly. We begin to see our sin, his perfection, and the majesty of his sacrifice. God is not in it for the headlines. He simply wants our misplaced hearts to come home.

The results are in

Re:Verse reading–1 Corinthians 1:18-25 (day one)

“For the word of the cross is for those who are perishing foolishness.”–v 18.

Our national pastime.  One of them.  Every 4 years we sit in front of TVs or tablets, waiting for election results.  “Based on the exit polls and early results, CNN is able to project _____________as the winner of the state of ___________.”

A metaphor of Paul’s perspective in 1 Cor. 1.  The results are in.  And rather than a mixed map, some states blue, others red, the Roman vote map was all one color.  They were united.  The word of the cross is crazy-talk.  Nonsense!

Certainly makes us a minority.  Vocal and unashamed advocates of a truth that lives in raw adversarial tension with the world.  We know by faith and experience that ONLY the message of the cross (sin, Savior, substitution, faith, Spirit) has power to reconcile humans to God.

Ok, we may lose every election.  Can we still win the world?

Every Legal Right

Re:Verse reading–Philemon 1-25 (day seven)

Philemon had every legal right to tear Onesimus down.  Roman law even compelled Philemon to severely punish both Onesimus for his escape and Paul for harboring him.  But Paul appealed to something higher.  Just because you have a legal right to act or just because it is culturally acceptable to act, does not mean you should.  Under Christ we have a new order.  We are compelled to acknowledge the image of God in people, and in particular, we treat our sisters and brothers in Christ as our closet kin.

“Philemon’s culture had conditioned him to view slaves as less than full persons who were deservedly consigned to their lot by fate, and Philemon would have been expected to exact revenge on one who stole away. But what was culturally permissiblefor dealing with a runaway slave was at odds with what is fitting in Christ”-David E. Garland 1998

Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?  On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren. 1 Corinthians 6:7-8


Re:Verse reading–Philemon 1-25 (day six)

Although slavery in the Roman Empire was not based on race, it was equally dehumanizing and reinforced extreme prejudice against slaves, even freed slaves. In that day, Philemon had complete authority over Onesimus’ life; he was nothing more than property to do with as he pleased.

The Gospel changed that kind of thinking. The Gospel did not upend (immediately) an evil system, but it did upend Philemon’s mind. The Gospel would not allow him to think of Onesimus as property, but led him to think of him as a neighbor, and then his brother.

The Gospel will always, always change the way you think about others. Jesus quoted the Old Testament saying, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Everyone is your neighbor. Does your thinking need to change too?


Re:Verse reading–Philemon 1-25 (day five)

vs 5 “because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints;”

A question people often ask. Comes in different forms and phrases-  “How do I know I am getting stronger in my faith?”,  “How do I know I am closer to God?”

Are there indicators or evidences that point to real faith?  The scripture does point to several. One of those is a deep affection and love for God’s people (the church). In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (chapter 5)  as he describes the love between a husband and wife, he uses the analogy of Christ’s love for the church.

Want a litmus for your faith?  Ask how much you love the church (more specifically, all the people in the church) – those that agree and disagree with you, those that encourage and are a challenge to you. It will be a deep and growing love for Christ that will produce a deep and growing love for His people. 

Of Course You Know What’s Right

Re:Verse reading–Philemon 1-25 (day four) 

Let’s be honest…Paul leaves no room for Philemon to do anything but the right thing.  Onesimus had run away from his master and was lost to Philemon.  God intervened though.  Onesimus had no clue how his life was about to change.  He had been on the run and to be caught as a runaway slave would have dire consequences.  The Gospel hijacked his life though…he met Paul and then met Christ and his life was forever changed.  He was redeemed!

Have you ever planned out your life and set off on a course that was apart from God’s plan? God has a way of capturing His own.  We may have left some Philemons behind us that we need to make amends with and ask forgiveness.  Paul was encouraging Onesimus to do the right thing, but he was also making sure Philemon did the same.  Redemption is in the hands of God…who are we to judge or stand in the way of others He has rescued?


Re:Verse reading–Philemon 1-25 (day three)

I appeal to you on the basis of love.

The modern Western mind might view the stakes in this way: A man who had temporarily clawed out a sliver of respite from life as a subject of human trafficking could end up disappearing into a system of forced servitude in which death is the only limiting factor.  Paul’s mind was not a modern Western one.  But his spiritual and intellectual brilliance led to the rise of that mind as he helped lay the foundation for what would become Western civilization.  How did that happen?  Paul concedes that he could force the issue by any means necessary: authority, position, coercion, shame, threat.  He rejects those means, discerning that regardless of the short-term outcome, they would produce only more of the same kind of world which gave us the present moment.  Love alone is transformative.